Tag Archives: leadership

You Don’t Always Get What You Pay For! [Part I]

HHC Diverse group of people nationalorigingroupRecently, there have been a plethora of scandals concerning domestic violence, discrimination, and sexual harassment in the news.  Each of these disturbing events seem to elicit responses by self-proclaimed ‘experts’ purporting to know how to solve problems of inequity and discrimination. This has led me to ask the question:  If you have a tooth ache, do you tie a string around that tooth and tie the other end to a door knob and slam the door?  NO! Do you go to a chiropractor or a cardiologist to have the tooth removed? NO! You go to someone who you are sure is an expert. You go to a licensed dentist. When it comes to EEO or diversity or inclusion (D&I), knowing who is really an expert is not as simple as going to Healthgrades.com and looking up a dentist’s education and licenses before getting that tooth pulled.

D&I/EEO is a multidisciplinary field with a few distinct points of entry such as employment law, human resources, and organizational psychology. The recent trend, however, is that people with degrees and experience in sales, marketing, communication, etc. are jumping on the D&I band wagon as the demand for diversity training increases. This is a perturbing development. In some cases, people are asked to become an organization’s diversity officer based on their being a member of a protected class: they may be people of color or women or members of the LGBT community or be differently-abled. They may be highly competent in the field in which they have spent their careers, but that does not make them experts in the complex field of diversity and inclusion.

Bona Fides

My professional experience in Equal Employment Opportunity began in 1988. In addition to my undergraduate and graduate education, I received formal training at Cornell’s School of International Labor Relations and in courses provided by the City of New York’s Department of Personnel in:

  • conducting investigations of discrimination
  • compiling and interpreting demographic statistics
  • preparing affirmative action reports
  • conflict resolution and mediation
  • developing strategies to overcome historic perpetuation of discriminatory practices
  • developing and facilitating adult education in EEO, Sexual Harassment Prevention, D&I, etc.

It took years of on-the-job experience augmented by this training before I was qualified to call myself an expert in my field.

Fake it ‘til You Make It!

Unfortunately, there are individuals who are willing to ‘stretch the truth’ and claim to have the requisite competencies and skills to create D&I strategies, education and initiatives.  They may even believe that they have those competencies or that their area of expertise is so similar to D&I that they can ‘fake it ‘til they make it.’ Some of this is due to ‘coaches’ and self-help ‘gurus’ who are telling people that faking it is o-k even admirable, as it will advance their careers.  I vehemently disagree!

When Passion Meets Purpose

I have been passionate about creating inclusion for as long as I can remember.  As both a woman and   person of mixed culture (my father was Puerto Rican and my mother was of Northern European descent), I have personally experienced discrimination and sexual harassment.  I have also been defending those unable to defend themselves since the 1960s in the schoolyard of my elementary school in Astoria, NYC.  Individuals with a true passion to end discrimination and increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace should get the specific education and experience that will qualify them as experts in this field. Those who do not bother to get their credentials can cause real damage to the employees who are in need of help and organizations that strive to become inclusive.  I have been asked to repair some of this damage by more than one of my clients, and it is the most challenging work that I do.

To be continued…

Most people do not know what questions to ask potential consultants or employees for D&I engagements. I will address this in Part II.

Have you been asking what makes a D&I expert an expert? If not, isn’t it a great time to begin doing so?

Onward!

~ Wendy

Please let me know what you think in the comment section below or email me: wendy@inclusionstrategy.com
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Survey Says…

Years ago I worked for an employer who would not approve of administering an employee survey because the president was afraid of what the employees would say – especially about discrimination – and did not believe that the organization could commit to responding effectively to employee concerns, criticisms, or recommendations.  Do you know what your employees are thinking and saying about you and your organization?

You may not be asking them what they think, but your employees are sharing their thoughts and experiences on internet sites such as facebook’s Rate My Employer: https://www.facebook.com/RateMyEmployer and Glassdoor http://www.glassdoor.com.

Scrooge and Crachitt credit-Mary-Evans
Scrooge and Crachit
Illustration, Mary Evans

Here is a small sampling of anonymous comments on the internet about employers who allow bullying by supervisors:

“My manager is out of control, employees fear him and no one feels that the company or HR would do anything.”

“HR is not there for the employee, but rather to shelter abusive managers.”

“My supervisor uses intimidation and bullying to try and meet his objectives. I have been subjected to sexism, racism…”

In earlier blog posts I have discussed the importance of asking people about themselves, their cultures and preferences. I also urge employers to conduct surveys.  Surveys are amazing tools that employers can use to determine how engaged and included employees feel, when used effectively! Here are some critical questions that need to be asked and honestly addressed before implementing an employee survey:

  • Are employees assured that their responses are really anonymous?
  • Are employees really protected from repercussions by supervisors?
  • Will the survey results be shared with all employees?
  • Will employee recommendations be considered or implemented? If so, will employees get credit for those recommendations?

Similar to conducting 360-degree feedback of executives, employee surveys sometimes provide information that employers may not think they are ready to deal with.  Frequently this results from not having guidance on how to effectively interpret and respond to the employees comments.

The leadership team of one client was genuinely surprised to learn that the support staff almost unanimously felt that they did not have opportunities for advancement.  This particular group of employees was 90% female, 75% minority, and 40% LGBT. The information that was collected through the survey and interviews enabled my client to address this and other issues and to create an employee development plan.  We also provided leadership and communication training for the support staff as part of the plan. The result:  employee engagement and productivity increased dramatically!

There are many benefits to be gained by conducting employee surveys including determining how effective supervisors are.  Many employers focus on results – the ‘by any means necessary’ approach to supervision.  This is a risky tactic as the short-term results of a bullying supervisor may be impressive, but what is the long-term impact of a supervisor who may be bullying team members to get them to produce?

Some results of a bullying culture:

  • Low morale
  • High turn-over
  • Active disengagement
  • Sabotage

I have written about those who find it difficult to speak up and ask questions based on their cultural perspective in earlier blog posts. It is even harder for those individuals to stand up to a supervisor who is a bully.  An anonymous employee survey that is administered correctly: off-site, outside of the employer’s computer network, by an independent consultant (I know that this sounds like a sales pitch, but it is not), and includes a sampling of employee interviews, can save employers tremendous risk and exposure.  Employees who are empowered to contribute their diverse ideas and perspectives to an organization’s success do so in incredible ways!

Are you conducting all-employee surveys on a regular basis?  If not, isn’t this a great time to begin?

Onward!

~ Wendy

 

There is NOT an APP for that!

What came first..?
A few weeks ago I received an email through LinkedIn asking me if I had a few minutes to chat with a fellow who is selling an app that would provide inclusion education for employees.  He claimed that at least one university was already using the alpha or beta version of this app.  He was asking for my input regarding his intention to expand his business into the public and private sectors.
My reply: “I believe that the computer and social media are incredible tools that can augment and enhance effective diversity and inclusion education, but are not sufficient on their own in this very sensitive area.”  He responded that they plan to offer blended education using a coach and online modules. I wonder how you can develop and test such an app before you check in with the subject matter experts.
 

Effective Education

In 1990 I set out to develop sexual harassment prevention and EEO (equal employment opportunity) education that would make a difference.  I was working at an organization that had a very low percentage of women and the mandatory aspect of the sexual harassment prevention and EEO education did not go over very well with most employees. I needed to reach my audience within the first 5 minutes of the workshops or I would lose them entirely.  So, I designed interactive exercises that got people talking right away, instead of torturing them with a slow, painful recitation of EEO laws facilitated through death by Power Point.
Many people approached me at the end of the sessions and thanked me, often hugged me and told me that they – frequently the same employees who had approached me four hours earlier, saying that they did not have time to waste sitting in this class –thought the session could be longer. They had more questions and wanted to do more brain-storming with the other participants. That they had actually had FUN! 

Can you relate?

I am not sharing this with you because I need to brag about my accomplishments.  I am sharing this with you because it is important to understand how critical it is that education in this sensitive and dangerous – yes, dangerous – subject matter is facilitated by someone who really knows the subject and how to reach the participants. That means that effectiveEEO, diversity and inclusion education is interactive and considers the fact that everyone in the room has strong feelings about discrimination and has had a myriad of experiences that result in the development of personal lenses of filters.  Diversity and EEO education is not the same as training someone how to use their cell phone.  This education is about relationships and so, the participants need to practice relating. 

When I used the word organism in my article, “The Evolution of Inclusion,” I was not using it as a metaphor. Organizations are comprised of people, not widgets and so I recommend that we take a more human approach to educating members of organizations about preventing sexual harassment, the history and laws pertaining to discrimination and EEO, diversity theory, and the value of creating an inclusive environment.  This recommendation is not based on legal requisites or on the fact that discriminatory behavior is not nice, it is based on the fact that people need other people in order to do their jobs successfully. In other words, people – all people – are interdependent.

What difference does difference make?
I know, I keep bringing up that word, interdependent, but it is the right word to use.  We are interdependent and if you have ever participated in team building sessions, you know that interdependence is at the core of those efforts.  I do not hear enough about this in discussions on diversity and inclusion.  We hear a great deal of discussion about ‘them’ and how ‘they’ are not doing whatever it is that we want them to do, (who ever ‘they’ are).  Well, let’s help people to discover their interdependence and then perhaps they will become independent from their fears of ‘them’!
 

This can only be achieved through interactive exercises that help people to experience change.  Perhaps they will experience a change of heart, or a change of attitude or a change of opinion.  This is always my goal when I prepare educational sessions for clients.  How might I help the participants to learn how they see others?  How might I help the people in the room to understand that different is only different, not better or worse, necessarily? (For example, I like chocolate and cheese – both a bit too much.) My ultimate goal, however is to help people to understand that different is better. Being around difference is better for us.  It makes us smarter, more interesting and more creative.  Difference makes us more aware of ourselves, not in a self-conscious way, but in a self-celebratory way.  Difference is delicious and beautiful and fun!  And there is not an app for that!


Onward,

~ Wendy
 

Announcing the Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC Partnership

Nebahat Timur Tokgöz
I am thrilled to announce the addition of two partners to assist me in leading Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC to greater heights of collaboration and success!
It is my honor to be associated with these dynamic, exceptional, and visionary women – Tresa Eyres and Nebahat Timur Tokgöz. Collectively they add a wealth of knowledge and experience, competency, and professionalism to Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC. They each also bring something even more valuable to me:Passion with a purpose.
Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC was founded on the principle that all people are valuable and hence, should be valued. Tresa and Nebahat have given tirelessly, through their careers and pro bono endeavors, to achieve that mission. Nebahat has also developed a rare gift of painting as a further means of expressing her passion for people and the creative process. Our diverse backgrounds and complementary skills and experiences will provide our clients with greater opportunity to strategically create success through inclusion!
Please join me in welcoming Tresa and Nebahat to Inclusion Strategy Solutions LLC!
Tresa Eyres, Partner Tresa

Tresa is a learning and development professional with more than 25 years helping clients improve their leadership and productivity. In the years 1994 through 2001, she was a key member of Bank of America Advisory Services, Inc., which provided on-site consulting to a number of financial institutions in Turkey.

 

Nebahat Timur Tokgöz, PartnerNebahat

Nebahat is a seasoned business professional with more than 30 years of demonstrated success. At a time in Turkey when few women held executive office, Nebahat was one of the first female Assistant General Managers of a financial institution and the first (non-family) female member of a Board of Directors.

 

16 September 2013
 

Commemorations

Commemorations

This week commemorates two anniversaries: August 26, 1920 the day that the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified granting women suffrage or the right to vote and August 28, 1963 when more than 200,000 people convened the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Commemoration is the act of co-remembering, to publicly share and memorialize some historic event. As a student of history, I love commemorations and the many ways that they influence the present and subsequently, our perceptions of the past.
 

(© 2003 D’Azi Productions)

“You cannot know where you are going, until you know where you have been.”

My mouse pad, a gift that a friend brought me from the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, has “History” (1962) written across the top and a photo depicting three doors. The first door has the word “Women” on it, the second door has the word “Men” on it and third door has the word “Colored” on it. Under the photo is the caption: “You cannot know where you are going, until you know where you have been.”
I love this mouse pad! Every day it reminds me why I do the work that I do. Every day it reminds me of Emma Lazarus’ words: “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” Ms. Lazarus, the poet famous for “The New Colossus” which is etched at the base of the Statue of Liberty was born in New York City but was never able to vote because of her gender.

A Lifetime of Voting
My mother was born eight years after women earned the right to vote in the U.S. and brought me to the voting booth for as far back as I can remember. I remember being in the booth with her, fascinated as she clicked the levers and finally slid the metal bar across that registered her vote and opened the curtain. The Wizard of Oz had nothing on her! I remember entertaining myself while she volunteered at the polls. I remember registering to vote immediately after my eighteenth birthday and counting the months that I had to wait for the first election that I would vote in. It was the 1976 Presidential election and being the nation’s bicentennial made it all even more exciting.

The Women’s Suffrage movement was launched officially in 1848 at a convention in Seneca Falls, NY, where Frederick Douglass, the only African American to attend the event, gave an inspirational pro-vote speech. (There were many women present who were anti-suffrage.) In 1851 at the Women’s Convention in Akron, OH, Sojourner Truth, another former slave delivered her famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech which poignantly argues for women’s equality. The women’s suffrage movement had its up and downs over its 72 year span including some deplorably racist tenets held by Susan B. Anthony and others. One might argue that white women competing against African American men for the vote exemplified a successful campaign to ‘divide and conquer’, but it was not and is not that simple. There were some lighter moments as well such as when Alice Duer Miller turned the tables in 1915:
 
Why We Don’t Want Men to Vote
  • Because man’s place is in the army.
  • Because no really manly man wants to settle any question otherwise than by fighting about it.
  • Because if men should adopt peaceable methods women will no longer look up to them.
  • Because men will lose their charm if they step out of their natural sphere and interest themselves in other matters than feats of arms, uniforms, and drums.
  • Because men are too emotional to vote. Their conduct at baseball games and political conventions shows this, while their innate tendency to appeal to force renders them unfit for government.
 
 
March On!
Yesterday marked the 50th Anniversary of the Great March on Washington. In 1963 I watched the historic event on television, awe struck by the vast range of humanity out en masse. The words of hope and inspiration from one speaker and performer after another were incredible, even to a little 5 year old girl. I did not understand the significance of the event nor how it would impact our world, but the message – We all deserve to be free and to be able to make a decent living wage – made its way from the Lincoln Memorial to our living room and has been motivating me ever since.
 
 
What is your story?
History – our story – is comprised of people who make a difference every day by marching, walking, talking, sharing, teaching and remembering! How have these historic events affected you and those you love? What is your story? How may we commemorate it?
 
Onward!
 
~ Wendy
 

The Emperor’s New Clothes

“The Emperor’s New Clothes,” Vilhelm Pedersen
The Emperor’s New Clothes

Hans Christian Anderson illustrated the vulnerability of leaders who are unable to self assess in his wonderful tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Another important observation that Anderson made was that the Emperor’s ‘executive leadership team’ would not tell him the truth about his lack of coverage, or protection for fear of retribution. So, because of his vanity and inability to engender trust in others he paraded through the streets of Denmark in an invisible suit of clothes. The only one who pointed out the truth was a boy in the crowd. “Out of the mouths of babes..”

Nolo Contendere
Nolo Contendere is a Latin legal expression meaning that the accused neither accepts nor denies guilt. A recent example of this is Bob Filner, Mayor of San Diego, who has been accused of sexually harassing as many as 16 different women during his career. Mr. Filner claims that he has never been trained in sexual harassment prevention and so is not responsible for his own actions and that the City of San Diego should pay his legal bills pertaining to these accusations as a result of his lack of training.
Take it From the Top
As I was about to begin a training session for the executive leadership team of a former employer, the head of the organization approached me, put his arm around my shoulder and said, “Wendy, does this really need to take three and a half hours? You can make the session shorter, can’t you? Say, two hours?” He gazed at me very directly, you might say, with emphasis, to make sure that I understood the message. He was not really asking me to shorten the session. He was tellingme to do so. We had customized the session for this group, to assure that they understood their role and responsibility to prevent harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Now, after months of preparation, I was being told to cut the session almost in half. I was not happy, but I knew that I was not empowered to defy him. How could hebe exempt from this training that every employee in the organization was mandated to participate in? When organizations are committed to preventing harassment and discrimination, they hold everyoneaccountable to upholding the law, regardless of rank. Successful leaders understand that in order to be effective they must lead by example, by exhibiting impeccable behavior, not by establishing a double-standard.
On best behavior?
If a consultant had been retained to facilitate the training session that I describe above, the intimidation that I experienced would never have occurred. The head of the organization would have been on his best behavior. This may seem self-serving coming from a consultant who stands to benefit by those who take my advice, but I have spent many years as an ‘in-house’ subject matter expert who was hired because of my expertise and asked or told to bring in ‘experts’ to facilitate training after I was on board. I learned that outsiders could be more effective, not because they knew more about preventing sexual harassment than I did, but because they would be taken more seriously than I would by the organization’s leaders. My mission has remained the same regardless of whether my role is employee or outside consultant – to end discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Sometimes that has meant bringing in an outsider to effectively get the message across, rather than conveying it myself.
Learning is fun!
Most organizations provide mandatory sexual harassment prevention training although the quality of that training varies wildly. What matters most is not whether education is mandatory or not, but that the education provided is effective. [I intentionally use the word education instead of the word training here, as we are discussing changing one’s behavior and competencies, not how to operate one’s cell phone.] If the education provided is not interesting to the participants, they will not retain critical information. Adult learning theory is very clear: make learning fun if you want it to make a difference! This rule is applicable regardless of the subject matter. To be clear: I do not think that sexual harassment is fun, but the process of helping others to identify it and prevent it should be. Even serious topics can be made approachable. So, the opportunity for subject matter experts is to think about how people learn, why people need to know how to behave in the workplace and elsewhere, and how to capture the attention of everyone in every educational session. The opportunity for employers, regardless of sector or industry is to make sure that everyone in their organization is accountable, even the Emperor.

 

 

Independence

The Founding Fathers

Committing treason, more akin to blasphemy, as they were citizens of a nation still influenced by decades of a belief in ‘divine right’ did not come easily to the Founding Fathers. This belief that kings were appointed by God was waning by 1763 when the British, as a result of really poor management, raised taxes in the colonies resulting in the American Revolution which helped to put an end to divine right altogether.
The Founding Fathers are often referred to as a mono-cultural group, but they were hardly that. The regional, religious, political, and historical diversity of the group that represented 13 distinct governments reviewed and debated 90 declarations before establishing the “Committee of 5” to write what became the Declaration of Independence. The Committee in turn, gave the job to Thomas Jefferson who submitted the first draft on June 28, 1776. After a few days of debate and modification the final document was signed on the Fourth of July, 1776. (This date has been contested by historians, but an almost-final draft of the document was printed and posted on July Fourth.)
The authors and signers of the Declaration of Independence had to agree to disagree if they were to gain their freedom from tyranny. They had to debate deep philosophical and political differences and stay in that room during a sweltering Philadelphia summer until they truly represented unitedstates. The Continental Congress had found enough strongly shared common interests and beliefs to sever their ties to their homeland forever.
The Declaration of Independence Has Six Sections
The Introduction: Which begins “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another,”
The Preamble: Another incredible beginning: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The Indictment: An outline of the offenses the authors claim were committed by the King of England, including “For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:”
The Denunciation: The justification for the declaration, “Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us.:”
The Conclusion: Establishes “That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved;.”
The Signatures: This evidence makes it impossible for the 56 signers to deny their commitment to the content of the document.

 

An Evolving Inclusion Strategic Plan!

Now that the newly formed United States of America declared their independence from

Great Britain they had to make themselves independent in fact. It took another 13 years before George Washington was inaugurated. The fact that the document signed in 1776 excluded the majority of the people under its jurisdiction does not diminish its impact. As we evolved as a nation the words of The Declaration of Independence were used to argue for the enfranchisement of all U.S. Citizens. 87 years dragged on before slavery was abolished. Another 3 years elapsed before former male slaves gained the right to vote. 54 more years passed before women who were U.S. Citizens acquired the right to vote. The powerful words contained in this document are used to assert the rights of people all over the world and act as a catalyst for defending freedom, representation and democracy everywhere.

As you celebrate this holiday, please remember to read The Declaration of Independence and think about where we might be without our diversity and inclusion, in other words, without our independence. The Declaration Of Independence
Happy Independence Day!
Onward,
~ Wendy
 

Cities of People

Last week I came across an essay that I wrote in 1996 examining the role that a city’s inhabitants play on transforming their space and how they are the architects of the future, especially through their diversity of thought.  This essay is as relevant today as it was when I wrote it. I asserted that cities are comprised of people whose lives, experiences and perspectives are the pulse of any community.  I contended that the diversity of human thought and experience breathes life into every city’s sky-scrapers, tenements and developments.  Though ever-changing skylines may reveal the physical history of cities, it is the people themselves who define the culture of cities.  As Lewis Mumford, observed in The City in History, the common denominator of all cities is that they bring together “not only the physical means but the human agents needed to pass on and enlarge.. [our cultural] heritage.”  Consequently, multifarious voices of city dwellers speak to us from the past and inform our future, enabling us to recognize diversity as a vital, rejuvenating element rather than a reason for urban demise. 
The Message

The recent developments in Turkey and Brazil are powerful illustrations of the capacity of diverse people to act inclusively when they share common goals.  Like many of you I have been paying close attention to these events.  I have been observing how people respond when they believe that they have been excluded. The people who have been filling streets and plazas in Turkish and Brazilian cities represent a diverse range of class, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, education level, profession, parental status, marital status, and political affiliation.  They have come to send a message to the leaders of their nations:  “We matter!  What we think matters!  Listen to us!”  
Our Space
When developers or politicians make decisions that result in an altered public landscape without the informed consent of the public they risk the wrath of that body.  Few people who grew up in New York in the 1950s and 1960s hear the name of Robert Moses without thinking about the neighborhoods in New York City that were destroyed as a result of his arbitrary decisions to build highways that cut off the life blood of those communities by separating residences from shops and schools and services.  The South Bronx suffered the most critical damage as a result of Mr. Moses’ actions and the urban blight that became synonymous with that borough has yet to be completely cured. 
The people of Turkey and Brazil have spoken up and reasserted their right to decide the fate of their cities, neighborhoods, and public spaces.  This is not just a response to the use of their hard earned tax dollars, but an expression of revulsion that they have been told, by the actions of their nations’ leaders that they have no voice, no opinion that matters, no stake in the outcome of decisions.
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Ayse Diskaya in Istanbul Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE
Reuters June 12 2013

Never Say “Just A Housewife!”
People matter, not just in an abstract way, but in a very real way. As the personal stories of those who are risking a great deal to raise their voices begin to emerge, I hear what can be described as spontaneous harmony.  One voice is that of Ayse Diskaya, a 48-year-old housewife who Murad Sezer wrote about for Reuters:  http://blogs.reuters.com/photographers-blog/2013/06/12/taksim-square-one-womans-protest/  Ms. Diskaya’s story is a poignant one of a women who has risen above adversity.
Diverse Voices
As I stated above the protestors represent a diverse range of people, thoughts, ideas and issues.  People are also protesting for various reasons and causes.  That is the beauty of democracy, we can really agree to disagree and still stand side-by-side in opposition to being excluded.  You were wondering when I would get to the word inclusion, weren’t you?  Well, people need to be included.  It really is quite simple.  As a result of the protests in Turkey the demolition of Gezi Park has been halted, at least temporarily.  In Brazil, the bus fare increase that sparked the protest has been rescinded.  The protesters in both nations have cited many issues as the reason for their outrage.
Datafolha 18 June 2013

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The New Public Arena
One way that people are speaking up all over the world is via social media, Twitter and Facebook, in particular.  Those who formerly gathered in the public arena, the local plaza, and the corner pub, have all convened on the internet with access to all in unprecedented and unpredictable ways.  The diversity of opinion that is exchanged in the span of one hour of any event is mind boggling!  People are free to say whatever they want about any subject and to get feedback from a huge number of other people.  This may seemed chaotic at first, but order really does emerge and people really do let each other know when they are being rude or ignorant or anti-social.  The democracy and inclusion of their diversity is what makes social media so astronomically successful. 
Harmony
On June 10 hundreds of people in Taksim Square in Istanbul sang “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from “Les Miserables.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FctAww-4p9k
When people sing in harmony, the sky is the limit!
W. Wark, 2011
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People need to be included in decision making whether those decisions are about the alteration of public space, their access to health care and education, their right to free speech, or their right to assembly.  Demos, after all means “the people” in ancient Greek.  We cannot have democracy without the people.  Just as we cannot have cities without the people.
So, what do you have to say about it?
Onward,
~ Wendy
 

Learning to be Inclusive

“I’m Done”

Several years ago I was in California’s central valley to facilitate training sessions for a large organization with many locations. It was well over 110 degrees and despite the low humidity, it felt very hot. I had spoken with my contact the day before to make sure that all of the details for the sessions were taken care of, but when I arrived at the training location the laptop that was needed to convey the information that I was there to share via Power Point was not in the training room. My contact did not recall confirming that she would provide said laptop during our conversation the day before and after emitting a long sigh, said that she would go and find one. The room was inside of a large trailer as the client’s office building was under construction, so my contact did not have to go very far to find a laptop. In fact, she just stepped outside of the door of the training room and returned a moment later with a plastic supermarket bag. The bag contained a laptop which she proceeded to look at along with its corresponding power cord as if unsure how the two objects were related. I offered assistance and asked her if she knew how to use the laptop and projector which needed to be connected within the next few minutes if I was going to be able to use them for the upcoming session. She responded as follows: “I’m an omelet.” I was not sure if I had heard her correctly, so I asked her if she said ‘omelet’. She responded, very slowly: “Yes, I’m an omelet. I’m done. I am tired of learning things just so that other people can use them.” I asked if she had any use for the computer and she said that she was retiring in a few months and did not see any reason to learn anything new. “I am here just to set up the training room.” She shared that she had almost completed her bachelor’s degree, with only one course to go, but did not see the point in finishing. I suggested that since she was retiring that she might use some of her new found free-time to take that one last class, to which she snorted, “Why?” What a profoundly sad woman! How could anyone not want to learn something new every day?
 
Learning as a key to Inclusion

 

Last week I facilitated a panel titled, “Driving Innovation for Greater Business Results” at NALC NY (DiversityBest Practices Network and Affinity Leadership Congress). When one is presenting at a conference the conference fee is usually waived, encouraging speakers to attend the entire event including other speakers’ sessions. NALC is organized with three tiers of sessions: Emerging ERG Leaders, ERG Program Managers, and Experienced ERG Leaders. Employee Resource Groups are groups that facilitate the development and engagement of employees and are usually centered on a common interest or affinity shared by its members such as a women’s group, LGBT group, etc. As I have been in the field of diversity and inclusion for many, many years I find that it is rare that I learn something new at conferences. I was pleasantly surprised and happy that I attended all of the sessions at NALC that I could since I did learn new things. I learned from the seasoned presenters, from the panelists at my session and other sessions and from the other conference participants while practicing what I preach about listening and learning as critical elements of inclusion. One has to be open to listening – really listening or actively listening – to someone regardless of whether they have less experience in one’s field or are a competitor if one wants to really learn something new.

 

Reach & Teach

 

My dear friends Craig Wiesner & Derrick Kikuchi give all of us who are hungry for new information lots to fill up on with their company Reach & Teach! Reach And Teach, the peace and social justice learning company, is helping to transform the world through teachable moments. We offer books, games, puzzles, toys, curriculum, music, posters, DVDs, maps, and other products for people of all ages.” Reach & Teachhas been an online business since 2004 and they are about to move into their new location @ 144 West 25th Avenue, San Mateo, CA. (In case you are fortunate enough to be in the area!) Going into Craig & Derrick’s shop is an amazing experience! Craig & Derrick’s love of learning is contagious and the two of them come at you with an array of books, games, origami, and some of the best puzzles around. It is always difficult for me to tear myself away from the wonderland of inclusive learning that they have created!


Learn from Everyone!

I recommend that we try to be open to learning from everyone, not just the ‘expert’ at the front of the room, but from everyone in the room and those who are not in the room, too. We even have the opportunity to learn from those who may not be inspired or curious, those who are “here just to set up the training room.” We have the opportunity to learn from the person squished in next to us on the subway, and on line in front of us at the supermarket, and from the marginalized in all places in society. Who have you learned from today?

 

 

 

An Invitation

When people ask me what the difference is between the words diversity and inclusion I explain that diversity is a statement of fact, (think of the diverse group of objects on your desk.), while inclusion is an action (placing the objects on the desk is necessary if they are to be included). We may be included in a group without being invited, but the most successful groups are those that are comprised of people who have been invited to participate because of what they potentially offer the group and who accepted the invitation because of what the group potentially offers them. (See my May 2nd blog entry, “Interdependence”) Think of the value an “A List” guest speaker brings to a conference or event.
We all want to be invited to the party, to the table, to the adventure! Once the invitation or job offer is accepted however, many organizational leaders fail to invite employees to make the most of their group membership. Think of the thousands of gym memberships that have gone virtually unused because the owners of the gyms failed to motivate their members to attend the gym regularly. The most successful leaders invite employees to contribute to their organization’s success on a continual basis and acknowledge those contributions publicly. This does not mean that every idea dropped in the ‘employee suggestion box’ has to be implemented. Those ideas need to be acknowledged, however, and if they are implemented, rewarded. When employees are invited to contribute to an organization’s innovation and success both the individual and the group can reach their full potential.
 
There have been many invitations asking us to contribute to one cause or another. Uncle Sam, for example, was first used as a recruitment tool for World War I in 1916. This image is still quite familiar to most Americans. The message is personal, pointing directly at YOU. A different call to action was when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Dr. King invited us to participate in the greatest non-violent revolution in our nation’s history. His was not an exclusive invitation. He did not invite only the oppressed to stand up for their rights, as they had the most to directly gain by acquiring historically denied civil rights, but he invited all of us to contribute to creating a healthier, more productive, more peaceful nation regardless of the color of our skin or our abilities. What other invitations have inspired you to act?
 
An Invitation to ‘Do One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion’
Tuesday, May 21stis the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development and we are all invited to ‘Do One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion!
 
The 2013 campaign, by encouraging people and organizations from around the world to take concrete action to support diversity, aims:

 

  • To raise awareness worldwide about the importance of intercultural dialogue, diversity and inclusion.
  • To build a world community of individuals committed to support diversity with real and every day-life gestures.
  • To combat polarization and stereotypes to improve understanding and cooperation among people from different cultures.
 
 
The campaign works through a dedicated Facebook page, serving as a platform for people around the world to share their experiences through posts and videos.
Here are some things that you can do in response to this invite:

 

  • Invite people from another culture to share a meal with you & exchange views on life.
  • Visit an art exhibit or a museum dedicated to other cultures.
  • Watch a movie, listen to music or read a book from another country or religion.
  • Read works by the great thinkers of other cultures (e.g. Confucius, Socrates, Avicenna,
    Ibn Khaldun, Aristotle, Ganesh, Rumi, or Frances Wright).
 
So, how will you respond to this invitation?
Share your experiences and learn more about this initiative on the UN’s Facebook page: Do One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion
 
I look forward to learning about your adventures in diversity and inclusion. Please let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below and of course, if you are planning to do one thing we would love to know about it.
 
By the way, I am always open to invitations!
 
Onward!
 
~ Wendy